how free you are

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Have you ever seen the movie Waking Ned Devine?  If you haven't, you should.  

Not only is it set in Ireland (sigh), but the characters are so real and so wonderful.  I'm pretty sure John O'Donahue (an Irishman himself) would have absolutely loved the two main characters, Jackie O'Shea (played by Ian Bannen) and Michael O'Sullivan (pictured above, played by David Kelly)... I keep trying to write a sentence to describe how fantastic these characters are, but it all sounds so cliche and lame: they're so full of life, they embody O'Donahue's blessing for old age, they make me smile.  All of that is true, but the words don't seem to do them justice.  

You should just watch the film to see what I mean. 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with my... second Grandmother once removed?  I have no idea what her title would be, but she is my cousin's grandmother (on the other side of the family)... That sounds confusing too... Let's just call her Grammy, 'cause that's who she is :) 

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Grammy is 90 years old.  90 years old!  I can't even imagine what that must be like.  And to make matters even more incredible, she is a 90 year old woman who looks, talks, and moves like someone in their 60s!  She is a remarkable human being who is such an inspiration.  Her zest for life has nowhere near diminished as she has aged - though she's been through difficult times, experienced loss and hardship, she continues to live each day fully, diving into new experiences in her 91st journey around the sun.  She kind of reminds me of Meryl Streep when she played Donna in Mamma Mia.  If I am blessed with 63 more years of life, I hope that I can live with even just half of Grammy's grace, dignity and fervor.

Grammy definitely would be friends with Jackie O'Shea and Michael O'Sullivan, if they existed in real life.  

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To the right is a painting I did in the spring of 2005 after my grandmother, Ga-Ga, passed away.  I was in my freshman year of college in DC at the time.  Ga-Ga's passing was really difficult for me.  Though in her later years dementia stole much of her warmth, I will always remember Ga-Ga for her love of painting, nature, and her family.  

Pop-Pop, my grandpa (also seen in the painting), passed away a few years before Ga-Ga.  He was a man of academia.  Headmaster, teacher, poet, and astronomer... I'm not sure if he actually knew anything factual about the stars, but he spoke with such confidence and joy, it didn't really matter!  Earlier this week, as I was looking through some old files, I found a letter he wrote to me on March 14th, 1998 in response to a poem I had sent him.  Seeing his handwriting and reading his words was a real gift.  

Last year, I got really into baking breads... particularly banana bread, pumpkin bread and, best of all, zucchini bread.  Gramma, my grandmother on my father's side, always has the *best* zucchini bread.  Around the holidays she sends us packages of homemade tasty treats, and the crowing jewel is always the zucchini bread.  So of course, I had to have her recipe!  So to Scranton, PA I went a'calling, to ask Gramma for her recipe.  She sent me a card with not one, not two, but three! delicious bread recipes.  

This week, I baked (and ate) an absolutely delicious loaf of zucchini bread.  Thanks, Gramma :)

The main part of my art project this week isn't actually mine at all - it comes from the hands and the heart of my dear friend Jamie.  After the loss of her grandfather, Jamie was asked by her family to give the eulogy at Opa's service.  At first, Jamie seemed overwhelmed by the task.  But, in true Jamie form, she came up with a remarkable way to honor her Opa and celebrate his life.  

During the days preceding the service, Jamie collected memories from Opa's family and friends.  She then brought all the memories together to create a simple, yet profoundly touching portrait of her Opa.

 

Though I never knew Opa, I can tell that he was an incredible man who, well into his old age, saw his days as "a time of great harvesting."